Kim moved into his own apartment in December 2016. He is living independently for the first time in his life, and the move has made the world of difference to his overall happiness.
“I’m really happy now,” explains Kim. “I don’t get bored or lonely, because I’ve got a PlayStation,” he laughs, when I ask him if living on his own is sometimes boring.
Kim used to live in a share-house with four other people. He was very unhappy in this home, and would spend most of the day and night roaming around the streets, visiting his mate Chris, and sleeping on Chris’s couch.
Kim attends annecto Yarraville’s Learning Centre. The Learning Centre has a 65 year history of supporting people experiencing disability to get involved in their community, use their skills and learn new skills, explore hobbies and interests, connect with community organisations and networks, and in some cases to live independently.
In Kim’s case, he receives a disability support pension made up of funds from both the State and Federal Governments. The pension is managed by State Trustees, and when Kim’s annecto Case Manager, Helen Munnery thought he would benefit from a change in his home environment, she looked into transitioning him in his own place. She works with State Trustees, local real estate agents and businesses to source appropriate properties, furniture and white goods in order to transition people into their own homes and improve their living conditions.
“There are lots of reasons why people with disabilities move out of their family homes. Some people have to move out because their parents have passed away, or are ill and sometimes people may never have had the opportunity to live in their own place,” explains Helen.
Helen’s primary role at annecto is to help people with disability to live independently. She works with businesses, the local community and individuals to set people like Kim up in their own homes, and make sure they are supported to live happy and healthy lives.
“Kim’s adapted really well and the experience of living independently has really helped him to grow. He’s very proud of his unit and keeps it impeccably tidy,” explains Helen.
“It’s not always a smooth transition. Kim, for instance, moved into his new place just before Christmas. The usual activities and lessons he attends at annecto Yarraville had ended for the year, and essentially all his mates were on holidays. He initially got a bit lonely on his own,” explains Helen. “But I was on the phone to him a lot, reassuring him he’s was doing well, and generally just being there for him when he needed someone.”
Kim lives around the corner from his best mate Chris, who also attends annecto Yarraville’s Learning Centre, during the week. Chris transitioned to his own place, by annecto two years ago. “For Kim to have Chris around the corner, it’s been fantastic,” said Helen. They go to the local cinema together, eat at local restaurants and often catch the bus to the shopping centre to do their shopping together.
“It’s been great for Kim to have Chris nearby. But it’s also important that Kim learns that Chris is a quiet person who really enjoys his own company too, and Kim needs to learn when to give Chris his space,” explains Helen.
Teaching vital life skills is a big part of annecto’s work. Transitioning people to live in their own home is more than just finding a rental property and providing furnishings. In order to ensure the person feels comfortable and safe and is set up for success, providing skills to live independently is imperative.
annecto Practice Consultant Lucy Murphy cites many success stories for people who have been given the right support and mentoring before and after they move into their new home.
“It is quite daunting for anyone to move into their own home for the first time, and particularly if the person has a complex disability. It is not only about being aware of physical needs and support but also the emotional ups and downs that might be experienced along with developing confidence and capability to connect with who they need to independently.”
Helen spends long hours building her networks with people in the community in and around the inner western suburbs of Melbourne. “I’ve got two great real estate agents, who help me find properties when we need them.”